Updated on August 19, 2022
Owning horses on your property is not always a walk in the park as you have to keep up with flies including the dreaded horse fly as well as other insects. Mild winter weather from March to October, especially in the Northwest, can contribute to a serious fly season. Other regions can have violent biting insect seasons which is stressing to the horse owners.
Unlike other wild animals, horses cannot escape from these insects and as they try to swish and stomp them, they consume a lot of energy. Fortunately, they (and you) can get some relief as we’ve put together a list of nine strategies that will keep your horses from getting bugged.
1. Lights Off
Most insects such as biting midges, horse flies, deer flies, or face flies do well in a well-lighted place. Therefore, ensure that the lights are off and stable horses on a hot day or before and during dusk. This will keep insects away from your horses.
2. Fly Masks and Sheets
Fly management utilizing a fly mask is common and one of the most effective methods that every horse owner should know. That being the case, you can keep flies away from your horse by masking them which protects their ears, jowls, and eyes.
Some of the best and most effective masks to use include open-weave, fly sheets, and mesh blankets and will go a long ways to helping keep flies away from the body of your horse. You can also protect the legs of your horse using fly boots.
3. Air Circulation
Mosquitoes and biting midges are naturally poor flyers. This means that a well-ventilated area with properly erected fans outside a stall helps with the movement of air. This helps keep small pests away from the barn which in turn keeps your horses safe.
4. Bait and Fly Traps
One of the easiest ways to keep small flying insects away from the horses is by using sticky traps. You can hang fly paper ribbons, rolled sheets, and brightly colored sticky tubes in the barn but ensure they are in a position where they cannot come into contact with birds, pets, and horsetails as they swish.
To get rid of horse flies and other large flies, you’ll want to invest in (or build) something similar to a Horse Pal fly trap. This is a large trap that attracts visual hunters such as horse flies and deer flies. They fly gets trapped in the metal portion of the trap and quickly dies from the heat of it being in the sun.
Regardless of whether they have an attractant or not, bait and fly traps will work effectively in trapping adult flies. If you decide to use traps with attractants, remember to place them away from the barn and horses to prevent the pests and flies from being drawn into the barn.
Related: Best Fly Sprays For Horses
5. Dry Ground Grazing
Ensure that at the onset of the summer, you graze them on higher drier pastures to prevent creating muddy areas which flies are naturally attracted to. Once the wet lower pastures dry out, you can have the horses graze there.
6. Get Predators to Help
At this time and age, technology is at its best and you can order almost anything with a click of a button. You’ll find some companies that sell fly parasites which can be ordered online and delivered to you in a matter of days.
These fly parasites are excellent in reducing fly population as they’re nocturnal wasps and tend to lay eggs in the developing pupae of flies and thus reduce the population of flies. The best thing about these fly predators is that they are harmless to animals or humans. Why not consider them?
7. Harrow Pastures and Collect Manure
The first step towards eliminating mosquitoes and flies is by doing away with their breeding grounds completely. That being the case, you can keep flies away from your horses by gathering manure in paddocks and drag the pasture from time to time to break the manure piles.
When you drag a harrow over the land, you dry up the manure making the place unfavorable place for breeding. Harrowing also gets rid of muddy areas that could otherwise shelter mosquito larvae.
8. Cover Up Manure and Compost Piles
Flies breed best on fresh manure and if you want to keep them away from your horses, remember to use tarp or another simple covering to cover up manure piles. In addition, do the same with compost bins and this will help make the breeding habitat unfavorable for any flies.
9. Plan Ahead
Having a horse requires you to have a good plan. This means that by understanding when pests increase, you can plan on the right strategies to control them. One way to do so is by increasing the population of good predators and putting out nesting boxes which will create a habitat that will be used as bait for the pests.
Also, you can plan on when to start a fly predator program for the next spring so you’ll be well-prepared next year.
Keeping pests away from your horses isn’t as difficult as it seems. The only thing to keep in mind is that by controlling their breeding and dwelling habitats such as manure and mud, you keep pests away.
In addition, do your best to minimize other odors such as sweat, garbage, urine, and rinse sweaty horses on a regular basis and this will keep your horse from getting bugged. Be sure to check out some other great ideas on Pinterest or Tumblr.